In 1989, before the days of e-mail and Web sites, a 9-year-old boy with a life-threatening illness made a wish. He wanted to be listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for receiving the most greeting cards. A chain letter was born.
Today, 16 years later, the letter can still be found circulating in Payson. It was recently sent to the Roundup as a letter to the editor.
The child is now a healthy college student and wants the mail to stop. His wish was fulfilled in 1990.
Unfortunately, the letter has taken on a life of its own, and people keep sending cards.
"The cards go to a P.O. box in Georgia, and then they are sent to a recycling center, so they are just discarded," said Brent Goodrich, media relations manager for the Make-A-Wish Foundation's national office in Phoenix.
"There was originally a child that wanted this wish -- to set a world record, but it was 15 years ago," Goodrich said. "His real name is Craig Shergold. It was actually fulfilled in 1990 after he received more than 16 million greeting cards. Guinness retired this category after the wish was granted."
The wish was originally put forth by a different children's organization, but after 15 years of circulation, the request has been attributed to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The requested items changed from greeting cards to business cards. The child's name has also been altered over the years to appear in many forms including: Craig Sheldon, Craig Sheppard, Craig Shelton, and Craig Shelford.
"The chain letters are passed along by well-meaning people who want to help out a sick child -- and so it perpetuates," Goodrich said. "That's why this particular letter has been in circulation for 15 years now."
The mission of the Make-A-Wish Foundation is to grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. But letters such as these strain the foundation's efforts.
"We answer questions about this letter virtually every day," Goodrich said. "It takes a lot of staff time to answer queries and handle mail that comes here to our office."
Goodrich explained that the resources required to respond to these inquiries distracts the foundation from its efforts on behalf of the children, and more importantly, divulges information that is potentially harmful to a child and his or her family.
If you receive a chain letter
"If anyone receives a letter or e-mail like this, they should refer to the chain letters section on our national Make-A-Wish Foundation Web site at www.wish.org," Goodrich said.
According to the Web site, the best way to respond is to reply to the sender and inform him or her that the Make-A-Wish Foundation does not participate in these kinds of wishes.
You should refer the sender and all recipients to the Web site, and should not forward the chain letter.
Goodrich emphasized that the Make-A-Wish Foundation does not participate in chain letters or any other direct solicitation wishes.
Anyone who would like to help a child with a legitimate wish should visit the Web site or contact the national office in Phoenix at (602) 279-WISH (9474), or toll-free, (800) 722-WISH (9474).
You can also mail donations directly to:
Make-A-Wish Foundation of America
3550 North Central Avenue, Suite 300
Phoenix, AZ 85012-2127
Other chain letters that are circulating around the world:
This Internet-based chain letter claims that a 7-year-old girl named Amy Bruce, who is suffering from a brain tumor and lung cancer, will receive 7 cents from the Make-A-Wish Foundation each time her letter is forwarded via e-mail. The request is false. Variations of this letter contain other names including Jeff DeLeon, Rhyan Desquetado, LaNisha Jackson, Nikisha Johnson, Jessie Anderson and Kayla Wightman.
This chain e-mail claims that Anthoney Hebrank, a sick 9-year-old boy from Garland, Texas, has requested Christmas cards from around the country and that the Make-A-Wish Foundation is allegedly involved. This claim is also false.
For more information, visit: http://www.wish.org/home/chainletters.htm